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I bought a new single electric wall oven to replace an old one in an old house. It says it requires 20 amp and 240 volts. The old one was running on a 10 amp breaker. The wire from the breaker to oven is 10/3. Can I swap out a 20 amp breaker, and will I need to run new wire?

The old oven is so old I can't find any info on it to see if the wiring was even adequate for that. Previous owner was very "handy", so I'm not sure what has been done properly or not.

  • Per questions below: what type of wire? Copper/aluminum, PVC/cloth covered? If you can read markings on the wire and/or take a picture both are helpful, and will help people give advice on using it beyond just if the conductor size is adequate. – gregmac Mar 5 '15 at 1:42
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10/3 copper NM is rated for 30A under the NEC, so the old oven was more than adequately wired, and it will support the new oven without difficulty as well.

If you are of the unlucky type to have aluminum wire in your walls -- 10/3 aluminum NM will still handle 25A, so you will be fine.

However, the load must be considered as the nameplate load (no demand factors) per NEC Table 220.55 Note 4:

  1. Branch-Circuit Load. It shall be permissible to calculate the branch- circuit load for one range in accordance with Table 220.55. The branch-circuit load for one wall-mounted oven or one counter-mounted cooking unit shall be the nameplate rating of the appliance. The branch-circuit load for a counter- mounted cooking unit and not more than two wall-mounted ovens, all supplied from a single branch circuit and located in the same room, shall be calculated by adding the nameplate rating of the individual appliances and treating this total as equivalent to one range.

The adequacy of a 20A breaker, though, depends on whether your oven is treated as a continuous or noncontinuous load as per NEC 210.20(A):

(A) Continuous and Noncontinuous Loads. Where a branch circuit supplies continuous loads or any combination of continuous and noncontinuous loads, the rating of the overcurrent device shall not be less than the noncontinuous load plus 125 percent of the continuous load.

and the definition of "continuous load" in Art. 100:

Continuous Load. A load where the maximum current is expected to continue for 3 hours or more.

If your AHJ agrees with Tester and I that a residential oven is a noncontinuous load, then a 20A breaker is fine; otherwise, you'll have to stick with a 30A unit.

  • I'd doubt an oven would ever be considered a continuous load. – Tester101 Apr 1 '15 at 13:13
  • @Tester101 -- I would be inclined to agree, at least in a residential kitchen. – ThreePhaseEel Apr 1 '15 at 22:17
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I would use 10 gauge wire and run new wire. You could use the old wire, but I would check it carefully for cracks. My experience is that old wire tends to get cracks in the insulation. Since you are replacing the breaker and oven, you may as well run fresh wire.

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